Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana froze plans to implement a so-called Western Wall compromise deal that would accommodate mixed-gender prayer at the holy site in Jerusalem.
The compromise - long debated in Israel’s previous government and Diaspora Jewry - seeks to create a pluralistic prayer pavilion at the site, to be under the oversight of representatives of non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.
The arrangement, negotiated for over three years, was approved in 2016 but suspended by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu the following year, due to pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners.
On Sunday, Bennett and Kahana reportedly delayed the plan again and suspend it altogether, despite Kahana's vocal approval of the plan back in 2017.
Reasons for the decisions include recent violence at the Western Wall between ultra-Orthodox protesters and liberal Jewish groups, as well as efforts by the right-wing to use the compromise to fuel incitement against the government.
The Western Wall compromise has become a focus for incitement and hatred,” Kahana said over the weekend. “We cannot play into their hands. We’re freezing everything at the moment. We’re not touching it. We cannot be a source of conflict,” the minister said.
First published: 13:08, 12.12.21